Will Apple license AirPlay to TV makers?
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Will Apple license AirPlay to TV makers?

Apple is considering allowing TV makers to build its AirPlay media-sharing protocol into their sets, according to a "Bloomberg" (http://macte.ch/i3UoT) report last week. However, I'm dubious for two reasons.

But let me back up. AirPlay is a feature for streaming music, video and photos wirelessly from an iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to the Apple TV. The wireless technology is being integrated into speaker docks, AV receivers, and stereo systems from companies such as Bowers & Wilkins and Denon -- for audio only.

Under the expanded AirPlay plan, Apple would license its AirPlay software to consumer-electronics makers that could use it in devices for streaming movies, TV shows and other video content, says "Bloomberg." An expanded AirPlay would let users stream programming wirelessly from an Apple mobile device to a TV that carries the technology.

However, I have my doubts. Reason one: it would undermine the Apple TV. Unless Apple plans on keeping the device a "hobby," you'd think they'd want to maintain some AirPlay exclusivity on it as a selling factor. Plus, I feel the Apple TV will play a bigger role in the company's plans when its ginormous data center in Maiden, South Carolina, goes online.

Reason two: providing TV makers and other consumer electronic vendors access to AirPlay in order to stream iTunes-sold video content would necessitate also licensing Apple's FairPlay DRM system. And Apple has shown no desire or willingness to do this in the past.


Of course, I could be wrong. "Bloomberg" says Apple gets four bucks for every device that ships with AirPlay audio on-board. If that price allied, or even went up, for AirPlay video, Apple might be willing to license FairPlay -- and keep the Apple TV as sort of a back-up for those who own non-AirPlay licensed HDTVs.

-- Dennis Sellers

 

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